This is lengthy but I didn't want to leave anything out.
On Sunday, December 14th, Roland and I said goodbye to Tino to embark on a long long journey to Southeast Asia. It was very difficult leaving him behind as we really wanted this to be a "family" experience...but there is NOOOO Way that he would have made that trip. He was left in good hands, our sister-in-law Anita and niece Alyssa came to the house to stay w/Tino.
We had an over-night layover in LA on Sunday night then on Monday we were off to Tokyo and then on to Manila. After 22 hours of flying time and about 40 hours after we left Tino, we arrived in Manila around 11:00 pm Tuesday, Dec. 16. Our Social Worker Eva picked us up at the airport and she, and our driver Lito took us to the InterContinental Hotel in Makati City, Manila. We arrived there around midnight(ish). Reality was really starting to set in !!
Wednesday morning we were picked up at 8:00 by Lito and taken to Hospicio de San Jose to finally, after more than 2 years, meet our son. Eva met us there and we were taken to the Social Workers' office and within 5 minutes Reni appeared w/a caretaker. He was so so adorable in his little tank top and boots. He was put down and off he ran....we gave him a teddy bear which he took to the trash can and tried to throw away. He really wanted nothing to do with us, why would he??? We were strangers and I am white!! He ran and ran and ran. He finally fell asleep in his social worker's arms and then we passed him around. We stayed there a couple hours and then Lito took us back to the hotel. We spent the rest of the day shopping for diapers, formula, bottles, bowls, food, etc..... That evening we had a wonderful Thai dinner with Roland's cousin, Ann. I don't think we got to bed till well after 1:00 a.m. So much for catching up on sleep!!!
Lito was back Thursday morning to take us back to Hospicio, this time to pick up Reni for good. We were very nervous, excited and so happy. Reni was more receptive to us that day. He actually let us hold him. There was a beautiful Mass and Entrustment ceremony for us. Renz was formally "entrusted" to our care and we formally accepted him as our son. There was a little party afterwards and many of his little friends came to eat spaghetti and cake.
We were given a tour of the orphanage. We saw Reni's dorm, Holy Angels Dorm, and saw his little metal crib with rubber slats in place of a mattress. The orphanage was very very clean and the staff was so caring and attentive. We were presented with a Life book of Reni. All the "milestones" we thought would never be documented - were. Pictures of him and his birth mother. Pictures of him at 1 month, 3 months. etc...he had a beautiful cake for his first birthday and a wonderful little party with all his little friends (his family) We were speechless at the kindness and hospitality of the staff. It was very evident that these caretakers and staff truly do love the kids. A few of them were crying, no - sobbing, during the Entrustment ceremony and when we left for the last time with Reni.
He was loved and that made a feel so so good!!!
Lito and Eva took us back to the hotel, Reni fell sound asleep in the car and when he woke up in the hotel he just smiled!! That was when my heart melted. He's pretty much been smiling ever since. He's such a happy little guy which says alot about the wonderful people who took care of him the first 16 months of his life!
Reni is adjusting just fine and we love him more than anything!!!
We plan to return to the Philippines when Reni is old enough to A. want to go B. appreciate his birth place and C. REMEMBER the trip.